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*The Legend of Zoey* by Candie Moonshower- young readers book review


The Legend of Zoey
by Candie Moonshower
Grades 4-7 224 pages Delacorte July 2006 Hardcover    

The Legend of Zoey is told in alternating chapters through the diary entries of two thirteen-year-old girls: Zoey Saffron Lennon Smith-Jones of today, who is suffering as her parents work through a divorce, and Prudence Charity Keeler, who lives in the early 1800s with her pregnant mother and deals with her absentee father.

Zoey loves living in today’s world with a cell phone and i-Pod and trips to the great shopping malls with her friends. She has an interest in history, but it is history and belongs in the past. Her current school field trip to Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, to see a body of water that didn’t exist until an earthquake in February of 1812, is simply boring to Zoey, but at least she is away from her divorcing parents for a couple of days. Maybe they can make up before Zoey returns home.

Prudence and her mother live on a secluded farm, a two-day horse ride from any other people. Their days are filled with the physical labors of having a fire, feeding the animals, preparing food, and keeping the homestead clean. Mr. Keeler is always traveling to minister to the Indians, and Grace Keeler is trying to fight dismay over her husband’s long absences with a people she fears.

Zoey’s field trip starts out like any other, with a bus full of kids happy to get away from their parents for a couple of days, but quickly turns into an exceptional adventure for Zoey, who finds herself in a flash flood one minute and being shaken awake by an earthquake the next. She approaches the only house she sees and comes face-to-face with Prudence and Grace.

The three women deal with life as best they can, and Zoey slowly realizes how her actions and behavior are being misinterpreted. Prudence is thrilled to have a friend her age, even if Zoey is dressed strangely and talks about the future as though she has seen it. Grace is leery of Zoey from the start because of her Native American looks and her disrespectful attitude. Over the time they spend together, the three women come to tolerate, respect, rely upon, and love one another as they deal with the daily trials and stresses of surviving in a wilderness on their own with constant earthquakes and an early delivery.

Candie Moonshower’s debut novel is quite an entertaining time-travel tale. She captures the material differences between today and the early 1800s as well as letting the reader experience the similarities that exist no matter what time we live in. The lessons Zoey and Prudence each learn are timeless.

Based in historical facts, The Legend of Zoey is great for fifth grade readers as well as readers of any age who are interested in Indian lore and would like to experience how life almost two hundred years ago differs from, as well as compares to, life today.

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  Lisa Haselton/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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